Thursday, November 10, 2005

Stepping Back: Democrats across the nation are giddy about their win in Virginia. As well they should be. But I hope they pay attention to the true lessons to be learned.

First, as I said before, be wary of any national implications. Yes a Democrat won in a Red State. But I'm doubtful Bush's sinking popularity had much to do with this. A Democrat won the governor's seat in November 2001, at the height of Bush's popularity. Kilgore, the Republican, was just a bad candidate. His negative attack ads hurt himself more than Kaine. I support the death penalty, but the ads I saw and read attacking Kaine's position on capital punishment were embarrassing.

Kilgore was actually ahead in the polls initially, but he blew it -- he blew it long before Bush came down for a visit. Republicans came up strong statewide otherwise. The GOP won the lieutenant governor's seat, which was won by a Democrat in 2001, and it looks like the Republican may win a squeaker for the attorney general position. Kaine was the state's lieutenant governor. The fact that he was promoted to the top seat is not a referendum on the war in Iraq. (Trivia: In Virginia, the winning candidate for governor has been from the opposite party of the president since 1977.)

Still, Democrats smell blood. And I encourage them to attack. But be smart. Right now the Democrats have no national agenda or any issues to run on. And the voters realize this.

Unfortunately, the liberal wing is already looking to rehash old strategies that keep failing. Many of them want to continue rearguing the war in Iraq. The Nation has already declared that it will not endorse anyone who does not repudiate the war and vow to withdraw ASAP.

I only speak for myself, but I'll bet others agree with me -- we don't want to relive the past. The national debate should be about where to go in the future.

Bush will have served two terms as president. He's not up for re-election. There is no reason to run against him or to promise to undo the good things he has done.

Kaine won in Virginia because he was a centrist. Moderate Democrats can win, even in conservative states. Moving to the extreme Left will only ensure defeat.

I'm tired of dominant GOP control. But I will vote against anyone who tries to erase all that we've accomplished during the past four years. Despite what The Nation says, we shouldn't hold a contest to find which politician will race to declare defeat the fastest.

The Democrats have an opportunity here. I hope they don't blow it by spewing hate, the way Kilgore did.

PS: I'm out on travel again Friday and Monday. Take care.


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